Long before there was Anna and Elsa, there was Dottie and Kit. If you don’t know who I’m referring to then I highly suggest you stop what you’re doing right now and go buy A League of Their Own: 25th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray. Best baseball movie of all time, hands down. Hard to believe that the film is already 25 years old as it really hasn’t aged a bit. Even more difficult to come to grips with, however, is that this many years later there still hasn’t been another female-centric sports film, let alone another film that celebrates female camaraderie and healthy competition in quite the same way. Worst of all, there hasn’t been another film during that time frame where just as many speaking roles are given to women. (This point is emphasized by the film’s lead actress, Geena Davis, in the lone brand-new special feature).
As someone who’s watched the film over the years at least fifty times (truth be told, it’s probably closer to a hundred), I was amazed that I still knew very little about the making of the hard hitting film. Here’s just a few things I learned while watching/listening to the commentary track on the 25th anniversary edition Blu-ray:
Penny Marshall refused to cast the actresses unless they passed their baseball-playing auditions, where they had to prove that they knew how to properly play baseball, and well.
The actresses learned how to slide bases using a Slip N Slide.
While Madonna was initially cast because, according to director Penny Marshall, “I wanted a dancer for the role”, the multi-hyphenate ended up impressing the cast and crew with her work ethic and dedication to the film.
Lori Petty caused herself to bleed during her scenes with Jon Lovitz because she had to constantly bite her tongue to stop herself from laughing so hard at his comedic acting. Also relevant to their scenes, a cow gave birth during the production and the owner named the calf Penny (after Penny Marshall).
The producers wanted Christopher Walken to play league owner Walter Harvey, “but my brother was cheaper”, jokes Penny Marshall on the commentary track. (It was at this point that it became glaringly obvious that the commentary track was taken from the 20th anniversary edition of the film, as beloved director Garry Marshall has since passed away).
Penny Marshall was surprised that the number one question people ask her of the film isn’t, “Did she drop the ball on purpose in the end?” but “Why didn’t Geena Davis and Tom Hanks hook up in the end?”. The answer?: “It just wasn’t done back then. Women stayed with their husbands. And she genuinely loved Bob.” Also, while Geena Davis and the rest of the female cast had to train day and night playing baseball, Tom Hanks just had to “get fat”. I suppose some things never change in the filmmaking process.
A League Of Their Own: 25th Anniversary Edition is available now from Sony Home Entertainment.